Update on Resuming In-person Services
DECEMBER 18, 2020:
Season’s Greetings and a Merry Christmas to you, your families, and loved ones. We are humbled and thankful to the Lord for the privilege and joy that we have in serving you in your growing relationship with Christ. During this unprecedented pandemic we have found it challenging to reimagine how to best serve you as we all adjust to these current conditions. We thank you for your incredible patience and eagerness to adapt to these new, less familiar ways of ministry.
Ministry during this pandemic has been quite a balancing act. We must “love our neighbors” (Matthew 22:39), “meet together” for encouragement (Hebrews 10:25), and “be subject to the governing authorities” as “instituted by God” (Romans 13:1). These verses are not in conflict with each other, but complement each other. We have used them as a guide to make the best choices on how to move forward in our ministry activities. We keep these verses in mind when we speak weekly with our county’s health department, read through health regulations, follow significant court cases, and take part in seminars with first-amendment lawyers. So, we believe that we should continue to move forward in a balanced way that honors God while continuing to be creative in ministering to you.
Practically, what will our ministries look like in the next few months? This is difficult to say; however, we do know that our Sunday services will need to change. Due to colder weather we will no longer be able to offer an outdoor service in our parking lot. All of our services will move to our online presentation and can be viewed through one of the following: valleybible.org/live, Facebook page, YouTube Live, or the Boxcast app. We agree with the health department that moving indoors would unnecessarily put our members at risk of contracting this vastly spreading virus that can be lethal to many of our loved ones. It saddens us to know that we will have to pull away from the personal interactions that take place at these parking lot services. We find peace in knowing that our sovereign God is in control and has given us a ministry that is not bound by a building. We are praying for you as we continue to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and find creative ways to connect with and minister to you, His people. Please reach out to us with needs that come up in your life. We would love an opportunity to meet those needs.
With the love of the “Chief Shepherd,”
Pastor Paul Crandell and Pastor Larry Howard
JULY 31, 2020:
JULY 1, 2020:
JUNE 10, 2020:
Valley Bible Church Family, on behalf of the Elders and myself, I wanted to provide you with an update on when we will be returning to our in-person services in the building. We recently received new information from the Contra Costa County Health Department, and they informed us that in-person indoor services are limited to 12 people. This looks different than what we've been hearing before from the State of California. They also told us that in-person outdoor services would have to be 100 people or less. What that means is we are going to continue to offer online services through June. Indoor services, in adherence to their guidelines, is not a step forward for a church of our size. The Health Department indicated the date of July 1st to open in-person indoor services. At this time, we have no indication from the CCCHD as to what the guidelines will be for returning to in-person indoor services in July.
Due to the current lack of timely guidelines, it is extremely difficult to project a date to return to in-person indoor services. Without these necessary informational guidelines, it is safe to say that it is highly unlikely that we will be resuming in-person services on the first Sunday of July. We will wait for more information from the CCCHD before we proceed. Thank you for your understanding as we wait for the guidelines from the CCCHD and work through these unprecedented times.
I know we're all eager to get back together but we want to do that at the right pace and according to the guidelines of the Contra Costa County Health Department regulations. We will continue to provide our online services throughout June, we are prayerful and hopeful that sometime in July we’ll be able to take another step forward toward meeting in-person as we get new information. We want to thank you for your prayers, support, and patience throughout this entire process. Please continue to join us in our Livestream services on Sundays and keep us in your prayers as we desire to make wise decisions on returning to in-person indoor services.
In His Service,
Pastor Paul Crandell
MAY 26, 2020:
Church Family, we love you and miss you. We truly miss meeting together and want to resume in-person services. Our faith grows in community and it is hard to be isolated from one another. We are prayerfully discussing the best way to reopen our church. We are eager to reopen, but we want to do this wisely. We do not want to rush this process. We are gathering information and listening to the appropriate authorities. We don't believe there is a prize for the first church that reopens.
We are first and foremost listening to God’s words in the Scriptures. Titus 3:1-2 says, “Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.” God wants us to submit to the governing authorities He has placed in our lives, as long as they don’t directly conflict with the commands of Scripture. The passage also tells us to be ready for every good work and to speak kindly. We desire to serve our church family and our community. We believe one of those ways of serving is to help stop the spread of this virus. We also do not want to participate in any form of speech that is not edifying.
The CDC and The California Department of Public Health have issued guidelines for worship gatherings. We have reviewed those documents and are currently discussing how we can follow those guidelines. Some of the guidelines include: limiting services to 100 people or less; wearing face-coverings; screening for temperatures and symptoms as guests enter the building; discontinuing all kids and youth programming; reconfiguring our parking lot; and not singing in public. We believe these guidelines will dramatically alter our services. We are currently evaluating if following these guidelines will actually be a step forward beyond what we currently offer online.
We believe it is vitally important to listen to Scripture and our local authorities as we formulate a wise re-opening plan. We also believe it is important to listen to you, our church family. We want to know how you feel about returning to our church facilities. We are not prepared to move forward with a re-opening plan until we have listened to your concerns. We have created a small anonymous survey that will allow you to express your feelings and reservations about coming back. Please take a moment to give us your feedback by taking this short survey:
How Are You Doing?
MAY 12, 2020:
We would love to hear from you! Please take this short survey to help us better understand how to minister to you during this time. We really want to hear from all of you and greatly appreciate your participation in this survey. It is only 16 questions long and should take no more than 5 minutes.
SUNDAY SERVICES – AN IMPORTANT COVID-19 UPDATE
MARCH 19, 2020:
Due to the Shelter-in-place order, SUNDAY SERVICES WILL BE HELD VIA LIVESTREAM ONLY until further notice. We hope and pray that we will be able to come together in person to worship and hear God's Word, as a congregation on the VBC campus; however, until then, we ask that you would continue to pray for our community, nation, and world as we wait on Our Sovereign Heavenly Father.
HOW TO LIVESTREAM SERVICES
Streaming available at valleybible.org/stream, on our Facebook page, or on our app via your phone or tablet. You may also download the Apple TV Boxcast app on to stream services on your TV.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP
Another practical way you can help is by remembering to support Valley Bible Church financially during this time. We encourage you to be an online giver, preferably a monthly, recurring giver. Our staff is still working, and our local and global Missionaries who rely on our support are still serving. One of our prayers is that giving does not drop off during this season as we continue to reach people for Christ in the Bay Area and beyond. You can give a one-time donation or set up a recurring donation at valleybible.org/give or mail your check to the Church Office: 1477 Willow Avenue, Hercules, CA 94547.
ARE ALL EVENTS AT VALLEY BIBLE CHURCH CANCELLED?
Yes, until the "shelter-in-place" is lifted. We encourage you to utilize Zoom, Facetime, social media, or a good old-fashioned phone call to keep in touch and encourage one another!
DO NOT BE ANXIOUS--INSTEAD, PRAY
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
MARCH 12, 2020:
Dear Valley Bible Church family,
Let me take this opportunity to inform you that due to the COVID-19 virus (Corona virus) and in an effort to protect the people and promote peace in our community, The Elder Council has made the decision to follow the Health Departments recommendations and hold Sunday service via LIVESTREAM ONLY this week and the following weeks, as necessary. In taking this step, we want to communicate that Valley Bible Church is committed to the health and prosperity of our whole community.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR THE INSTALLATION SERVICE SCHEDULED FOR MARCH 15TH AT 10AM AND FUTURE SUNDAY SERVICES?
The Installation Service for our new lead pastor is not cancelled, just postponed. We will update you on a new date for that service. We will be streaming services to our website and to Facebook page this Sunday (March 15) at 10:00am and future Sundays (end date TBD) at 9:00am, 11am PDT.
HOW TO LIVESTREAM SERVICES
We are doing this in compliance with the Contra Costa County and State of California Health Departments recommendations. The CCCHD put out a report recommending that all events involving 50 people or more should be canceled and rescheduled for a future date. On March 11, 2020, the Governor of California recommended, in accordance with the State’s Health Department, that all events of 250 people or more be canceled.
We are not making this decision out of fear (Matthew 10:31) but, in obedience to our government authorities established by God himself (Romans 13:1). We encourage you, in accordance with Philippians 4:6-7, NOT to be anxious during this unprecedented time in our church history. Prayer is the solution to anxiousness and brings with it a peace that will surpass all of our comprehension and will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
This situation is changing rapidly. We will update you if we hear of any new recommendations from the authorities.
“We understand that these recommendations will substantially impact our lives and may be difficult to implement. We considered them carefully in consultation with the state and other counties who have taken similar actions. Given that we now know coronavirus is spreading in our county, this is a critical time for each of us to do our part to protect our community.” - Contra Costa Health Services
MAKE “ONLINE CHURCH” A MISSION OPPORTUNITY
Let me be clear: Church is not canceled. It’s just changed.
This Sunday, let’s all continue to gather—in our homes, with our neighbors, with our small groups—by watching the livestream of our Sunday services. I encourage you to do this as a kind of “home church” –– and a new way to introduce friends and neighbors to Jesus!
Our livestream services will be full of joy, encouragement, and hope––what everyone needs in times of uncertainty. Whether you’re joining us alone or with a group, send a picture to [email protected] so we can share it with everyone, or post directly to your own social media and tag us.
TAKE CARE OF YOU, YOUR FAMILY AND OTHERS
First and foremost, use wisdom in how you take care of yourselves in the coming weeks, by following the guidelines set up by the CDC or CCHS these guidelines can typically be found on the internet. Or contact your health provider for their input on how to care for yourself and others.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP
Another practical way you can help is by remembering to support Valley Bible Church financially during this time. We encourage you to be an online giver, preferably a monthly, recurring giver. Our staff is still working, and our local and global Missionaries who rely on our support are still serving. One of our prayers is that giving does not drop off during this season as we continue to reach people for Christ in the Bay Area and beyond. You can give a one-time donation or set up a recurring donation at valleybible.org/give.
ARE ALL EVENTS AT VALLEY BIBLE CHURCH CANCELLED?
No. Only gatherings of 50+ people will be canceled, in accordance with Contra Costa Health Services guidelines.
Most of our other gatherings such as small group Bible studies, support groups, and Core Values classes are planning to meet as usual. The Health Department is not currently recommending that smaller-sized groups cancel meetings. However, individuals who are feeling sick or who are in high-risk groups should stay home.
Please stay flexible. If your group or class decides to cancel, your leader will let the group members know.
If you have any questions about whether a group is meeting, contact the group leader. You can also contact the church at [email protected] or call the church office at 510-799-3171.
On behalf of the Elder Council,